In-depth reviews

Tesla Model S review - Reliability and safety

Tesla offers an eight-year battery warranty for the Model S, while safety levels are first-rate

While Tesla has weathered various media storms around its Autopilot system, which has been implicated in a handful of serious accidents sometimes attributed to driver inattention, the underlying safety seems very good. The Model S performed well in EuroNCAP's crash tests in 2014, where it was awarded a full five stars. Individual scores included an 82% rating for adult occupant safety, 77% for child occupants and 66% for pedestrian protection. Its safety assistance package was rated at 71%, with the testers highlighting the fact that an autonomous City Braking system was not available at the time of the assessment.

In spite of its advanced digital technologies and lack of traditional switchgear, on our test we found that everything on the Tesla Model S worked perfectly fine. The non-digital/hardware components feel well fixed together too, and the car certainly feels as though it has been built to last.

Tesla is also committed to continually updating the software installed on all its vehicles. As well as routinely upgrading the performance of autonomous driving and safety systems, it’s also possible to effect ‘repairs’ over the air. For example in mid-2017, Tesla issued an over-the-air fix for a potential airbag fault, which would otherwise have prompted a nationwide recall notice.


The Model S comes with a battery and drive unit warranty lasting 8 years or 150,000 miles (whichever comes first), with a minimum 70% retention of battery capacity over the warranty period. It's transferrable between owners too, even if you never service the car. The rest of the car is covered for a reasonable four years, but with a rather ungenerous 50,000 mileage cap.


A fixed-price servicing plan covers service parts and wearing items such as wipers and brake pads (not tyres). At the time of writing the price is £1,800, which breaks down to £450 per year. That's pretty pricey compared to many more mainstream rivals.

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